As the new NBA season continues to draw closer, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the Los Angeles Lakers will find a willing trade partner for Russell Westbrook.
“The Lakers are looking to dump Russell Westbrook’s salary along with first-round picks to secure a talent upgrade, while the Suns reportedly want to bring in a post-up power forward.
New York could package Randle and Fournier for Westbrook and two firsts in concept, but Los Angeles has fought back against dealing both picks, especially unprotected. The Knicks were also going to attach a first to get rid of Fournier, so expecting much back in a deal involving him is folly,” Vertsberger wrote on September 8.
Overall, the trade would look like this:
New York Knicks receive:
- Russell Westbrook
- Two future first-round picks
Los Angeles Lakers receive:
- Julius Randle
- Evan Fournier
With the limited amount of shooting currently on the Los Angeles roster, the notion of adding Evan Fournier – who shot 38.9% from deep on 7.7 attempts per game – would be highly appealing to the front office, while Darvin Ham might feel like he could help Julius Randle re-discover his best form.
Brian Windhorst Has Low Expectations For Current Lakers
As currently constructed, the Lakers have arguably the worst three-point shooting backcourt in the NBA, with Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley expected to share the court together at the point guard and shooting guard positions.
With Westbrook, Beverley, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis all projected to be in the team’s starting five, there’s a very real concern about how this Lakers rotation is going to spread the floor enough to allow their star players to pressure the rim.
Speaking we have September 7 episode of NBA Today, ESPN’S Brian Windhorst noted how he doesn’t believe the Westbrook and Beverley pairing can work – especially for a team with aspirations of making a deep playoff run.
“I don’t believe that the Lakers think this is going to work. I think they’re saying that, and trying to keep a stiff upper lip and make the best out of this because they know they don’t have any Russell Westbrook trade that makes sense for them right now. So, they’re gonna try to make it work.
But let’s be honest, we live in an era where you have to have shooting in the NBA. When the Lakers won their title a couple of years ago, it was with shooting. All of LeBron’s great teams in his career had shooting. You have Westbrook who is one of the worst three-point shooters in the NBA, and Patrick Beverley is coming off the worst three-point shooting year of his career…This duo doesn’t make any sense on a basketball level,” Windhorst said.
Westbrook & Beverley’s Bad History Could Play a Role
Another reason why the Lakers might be tempted to pull the trigger on Vesterberg’s proposed deal is to ensure some modicum of locker room harmony – as given their frosty history, there’s no guarantee Beverley and Westbrook will be able to worth together coherently.
When the Lakers originally announced they had acquired the defensive-minded guard, The Athletic’s Zach Harper released an article detailing the contentious history between the two outspoken ball handlers.
“First and foremost, putting Beverley and Russell Westbrook on the same team is objectively hilarious. Westbrook and Beverley have a long history of hating each other. Do you know how much fire has to be behind that hatred for it to last years and years, no matter which team you’re on and which team the other guy is on, especially when you face each other only a handful of times each season ?
Assuming Westbrook is still with the team at the start of the season, we’re going to see some awkward interactions between these two on the court, and someone’s act isn’t going to vibe with the other,” Harper wrote.
If Ham and his coaching staff believe Westbrook’s presence within the locker room is going to cause issues, and his basketball fit still looks like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, there is every reason to believe a package containing both Randle and Fournier would be enticing enough to see the deal come to fruition.
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